Since the 19th century, the United States has been dominated by Americans who identified as loyal Christians. Yet, today, the single most ideologically committed group of white Americans is atheists, according to a recent Pew research study. Deemed as the “nones” by R.R. Reno , Editor of the religious journal First Things, this group now dominates higher education, the media, Hollywood, and cultural institutions.
The rapidly growing group “played a decisive role in [Obama’s] victory in 2012,” due to their overwhelming support of abortion and gay marriage. “For the first time in American political history, the winning party deliberately attacked religion,” Reno reports.
However, it is to be noted that the number of Americans who attend church every week has stayed consistent over the past 50 years, hovering around 35 percent. The rise of the “nones” and the continued union of the devoted core of believers have led to dissent in public life. Not only do these two groups conflict theologically, but culturally and politically.
“It’s not good when the most numerous and powerful constituency in the Democratic Party has no time for religion,” Reno explains. “This is all the more true when its ideology has the effect of encouraging the rest of the party to view religion- especially Christianity- as the enemy.”
Nearly 250 years ago, the Constitution was signed, protecting religious liberties in two ways. It prohibited laws establishing a religion and those that limit free exercise of religion. “What we’re seeing today is a secular liberalism that wants to expand the prohibition of establishment to silence articulate religious voices and disenfranchise religiously motivated voters and at the same time to narrow the scope of free exercise so that the new secular morality can reign over American society unimpeded.”
For example, when various states such as Illinois passed laws allowing gay adoptions, they did not ‘accommodate’ Catholic charities, but instead demanded compliance with principles of non-discrimination, forcing the Church to shut down her adoption agencies in those jurisdictions,” Reno asserts.
Reno offers three solutions to the ongoing attacks on religious liberties. First, he encourages the defense of religious liberties within the justice system. Next, he urges a “fight against the emerging legal theories that threaten to undermine religious liberty.” Then, he claims that a fight against the cultural battle must be launched. Finally, he believes we must not condemn the non-secularists within society.
“Religion gives us a place to stand outside politics, and without it we’re vulnerable to a system in which the state defines everything, which is the essence of tyranny,” Reno said.
Ali Swee is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Academia and its sister organization— Accuracy in Media.
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